HELEN FRANKENTHALER | Untitled

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HELEN FRANKENTHALER
Untitled
dated 14 July 1978 and dedicated For Marjorie With Love Helen on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
78 by 42 in. 198.1 by 106.7 cm.

Price Available Upon Request

PROVENANCE
Collection of Marjorie Iseman, New York (a gift of the artist)
André Emmerich Gallery, New York
Jay E. Cantor Fine Art Consulting, Inc., New York
Private Collection, Europe
Acquired by the present owner from the above

CATALOGUE NOTE
"Truth comes when one is totally involved in the act of painting, somehow using everything one knows about painting materials, dreams, and feelings. Consciously and unconsciously, the artist allows what must happen to happen...That magic is what makes paintings unique and necessary." - Helen Frankenthaler

A canvas of grand scale and distinction, Helen Frankenthaler’s Untitled executed in 1978, displays the luminous color, lyricism, beauty and elegance that are the signature qualities of the artist’s oeuvre. Expansive fields of paint occupy the entire pictorial space —vivid, bold and mystical. In 1969, the artist was the subject of a retrospective at the Whitney Museum in New York, the following year she closed her 83rd Street studio after a decade working there, and in 1971 she divorced from her husband of 13 years Robert Motherwell. Her professional success combined with these emotional events lead Frankenthaler to produce a body of work in the early and mid-1970s that is noticeably more intense and expressive in nature. Barbara Rose noted, “Her paintings are no (longer) merely beautiful. They are statements of great intensity and significance about what it is to stay alive, to face crisis and survive, to accept maturity with grace and even joy" (Barbara Rose, Frankenthaler, New York 1972, pp. 105-106). By harnessing the fluid nature of her trademark thinned paint and combining it with a newfound interest in painterly strokes, the artist could produce decisively momentous compositions that both furthered her career and the world’s understanding of American postwar art.

Mesmerizing in its swaths of red – light, dark, dense, smooth – combined with vivid orange and hints of white, Untitled is Frankenthaler’s resounding answer to the muscular compositions of the Abstract Expressionists from the 1940s and 50s, whose furious and gestural works defined the artistic vernacular of that time. Pushing beyond her predecessors’ achievements, Frankenthaler carved a niche within this canon that is at once deeply singular and highly personal. E. A. Carmean Jr. eloquently expresses this sense: “One has the feeling that her pictures are an environment into which we look, and, in a similar way, that it is an environment, a place, where she has been” (Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art (and travelling), Helen Frankenthaler: A Paintings Retrospective, 1989, p. 8). Untitled’s lyrical orchestration of intense red, energetic orange and bold white exemplifies Frankenthaler’s mature mastery of color and line in producing complex, rhythmic climates, and here on an impressive, vertical scale.

For all enquires, please contact David.Schrader@sothebys.com

Currently Available for Private Sale

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